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Tom Maher/INPHO Jack Crowley made his debut against Fiji last weekend.
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'He phoned me up a year ago' - The call that says it all about Jack Crowley
The Munster man rang Ireland attack coach Mike Catt out of the blue before he was even in the squad.

JACK CROWLEY TURNED Ronan O’Gara and La Rochelle down because he believed he could establish himself as Munster’s first-choice out-half and become an Ireland international sooner rather than later.

Who knows how things might have turned out had the young Cork man taken up the offer to move to France in the summer of 2021 instead of signing a new two-year deal with Munster? It might have been a beautiful thing with ROG in La Rochelle but Crowley certainly wouldn’t be capped by Ireland already.

The 22-year-old is set for his second Test cap off the bench against the Wallabies tonight [KO 8pm Virgin Media/Amazon]. This is a stage Crowley backed himself to reach. He might have said last week that he wasn’t planning on playing Test rugby this early, but the truth is he has been thinking about fitting in with Ireland for quite some time.

Ireland attack coach Mike Catt revealed yesterday that Crowley rang him out of the blue a year ago. Remember that Crowley was barely getting a look-in with Munster at that stage, yet he wanted to know what Ireland’s coaches were looking for.

“Jack’s a proper student of the game,” said Catt yesterday.

“I’ve been talking to him for a year now, he phoned me up once and was really curious about how Ireland do things. I’ve chatted with him, I’ve done a few kicking sessions with him over the last year. He’s been able to grow on the back of that.

“With Mike Prendergast and Graham Rowntree at Munster sort of moving to the way we have played, he’s got a much better understanding of it.

“What I really like about Jack is he knows his stuff and he’s also very confident that he knows his stuff. He can assert his authority, he’s very good on the back of that plus his skillset is very good.

jack-crowley Billy Stickland / INPHO Crowley at the Aviva Stadium yesterday. Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

“He loves the game, loves playing and enjoying the game and he studies it. So, yeah, all-court game. He’s got a good kicking game, good passing game, he’s tough defensively too.

“Let’s see, he’s got a lot to learn still, but there’s no better person that he could learn from than Johnny Sexton. He has been lapping it up for the last three weeks. He hopefully will get an opportunity tomorrow and we’ll see where we go on the back of it.”

It has been an incredible season for Crowley so far, going from third-choice at Munster to impressing on the Emerging Ireland tour, being named in the Ireland A squad, then jumping into the senior squad after injuries to Ciarán Frawley and Joey Carbery.

As for that phone call a year ago, Catt confirmed that it’s not common for such a young player with no experience in Ireland camp to ring him like Crowley did.

“No, that’s why! It’s just something, it’s that curiousness in a player,” said Catt.

“He wasn’t even starting for Munster five weeks ago, now all of a sudden he’s got two caps under his belt. 

“It’s an amazing story, it’s brilliant. I absolutely love it. He’s grasped it, he’s made it happen so good on him. But there’s a long way to go. We’re happy with what we’re seeing at the moment.”

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In fairness, Catt had been well aware of Crowley’s promise before that phone call.

“We trained against the U20s in 2020, he was very impressive. It was down in Cork. Jack was number 10 for the U20s, he played really well. I knew of Jack. 

“He’s done it all off his own back, all credit to him. Let’s hope he comes through.”

Crowley is only just getting started but clearly, there is lots of excitement about where he can go.

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- This article was originally published on The42 at 6.15am and was updated at 3.06pm to add the number 10 to the 17th paragraph.

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